Killer Whales Seen Sharing a Shark Meal in Rare Video
Drone footage in Monterey Bay, Calif., catches what may have been a teachable moment for young orca calves.
And now for something completely rare: footage of killer whales passing around prey.
New drone video captured by Slater Moore Photography during a Monterey Bay Whale Watch (MBWW) tour clearly shows a sevengill shark's luckless end in the jaws of a large killer whale, which then hands the meal off to nearby calves, in what has been postulated as a kind of teachable hunting moment for the young orcas.
The whales were identified by MBWW as Offshore, a type of killer whale not often seen in protected inshore waters. "We know surprisingly little about their normal habits, other than basic info about their diets and social group size and vocalizations," MBWW wrote on its Facebook page.
Killer whales come in three recognized types: Offshore, Transient (a.k.a. Bigg's), and Resident. Offshore orcas are generally smaller than the other types and gather in groups of 20-75, with occasional groupings of 200 or so. They have distinctively rounded, nicked fins and the males and females are closer in size than the other types.
According to NOAA Fisheries, Offshore killer whales are "among the least observed and understood of all killer whale populations," so this footage is likely a welcome thing for biologists to witness.